Last spring we visited Hop Brook Preserve in Blackstone and took in the views of the triple waterfall cascade tumbling down the hillside in this area that is clearly former pasture.
Every where we looked we spotted stone walls. The landscape is somewhat rocky, but the hand of man is everywhere. Broad former cart paths and stone walls witness the hours of labor spent taming this area in years gone by. The brook offered a needed source of water for livestock.
Yes, the brook. When we visited a few days ago, the brook offered but a small pool of water. Otherwise, the path the water follows downhill offered only hints that a watercourse flows through this area.
Yellow birch leaves litter the trail. But we have been experiencing a drought this summer. Waterways are often low in the early fall, but this is extreme.
Fall foliage is beginning to show itself, but we suspect much of the early fall is because of the drought–the trees are very stressed.
At the edge of the woods is a power line, which we followed down to where the brook crosses the path. The closer we got, the clearer it became that the brook had dried up.
In the low area where the brook normally passes, we spotted phragmites, (invasive in New England) .
We also found cat tails, plants that grow where the ground is wet. Otherwise, no water at all.
Visiting the same area in different seasons is a great way to better understand the ebb and flow of nature throughout the year. Abundance or drought, both part of the flow of seasons, and yet, we know the world is changing. Here’s hoping the fall rains return soon to fill the brook back up, and all the other waterways so important to us all. Happy trails!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.